IN SEA CITY~A Short Story
A break from her normal reality was definitely needed. Darlene sat lounged in the airplane chair with a paper pillow under her head, and the skimpiest blue blanket ever made partly covering half of her body. She could smell still strongly the pungent perfume someone around her had on. With three seats across from the isle Darlene was quite satisfied to at least have the window seat, so she could stare and day dream out of it.
Darlene barely had leg room from the chair lounged down in front of her, but she made due by adjusting herself every once in awhile re-crossing her long sexy legs. She shared an arm rest with a man in a cowboy hat who seemed very respectful and considerate; in her mind Darlene nicked named him the Texan. Next to the Texan sat a woman in the isle seat whom was shorter than average, a bit rounded in build with short wavy brown hair, she had a face that could be cold looking unless addressed in an overly friendly way.
They had already been in the air for two hours and there still was a long flight ahead before Darlene reached her destination in New Jersey. Coming from Utah she was already dressed and prepared for the warm weather she suspected to have in Sea City,New Jersey where she had a beach side condo rented and waiting for her. Darlene had worn presentable white Bermuda shorts with ample pocket space. She sported a sleeveless navy blue and white striped pull over shirt, and white sandals to match the outfit. Darlene often was re-gathering her long blonde locks in hopes they weren’t brushing up against and bothering the Texan.
While trying to doze off, Darlene’s mind started to wander on what she was glad to be escaping from in Salt Lake City,Utah. It was Jed really she was relieved to have many miles apart from. Jed had been her fiancé and he turned out to be a bad one towards the end of their engagement. Darlene could had never fathomed that Jed would had been the type to cheat on her and fall in love with another woman. The whole nightmare caught her off guard and as Darlene thought about this she fought back those stupid tears she often shed on the whole hurtful situation. Darlene said to herself “now stop it, think about something else” “think about the EXPO”. Darlene did start to think about the EXPO on technology she would be visiting in New Jersey. She had made this business trip into a dual purpose excursion.
Darlene began to ponder on her job and the people in her office she left behind. She was glad to be away from them all for this period of time, because she could no longer take their pity looks towards her. Oh sure they meant well, but they constantly reminded her of the break up, and she didn’t want anyone feeling sorry for her. Darlene thought how she would rest up the first day of arrival and than spend only two days at the EXPO. She figured that would be a sufficient amount of time to soak in all the new technologies because Darlene was very good at her job working for NASA now for a total of sixteen years. She already was aware of all the new gizmos being made because she always kept up her reading on all the new research going on in the world. It wasn’t long before Darlene was fantasizing on what her beach side condo would be like and how much her three week vacation would do her a world of good.
Out of Darlene’s day dreams she could hear the Captain announce they would be going through a bit of turbulence, as her eyes focused she saw all the necessary lights were on to buckle up your seat belts. Darlene always kept her seat belt on any way when she was seated because she was not really fond of flying in the first place and always carried that touch of crashing in the back of her mind. However to get where she was going flying was a necessary evil. Darlene noticed the Texan was relaxed and calmly sitting there, and that eased her mind. He was comforting to her almost like she had a buddy on the flight. The Texan turned to her just at that moment and asked her if she was doing alright? Darlene automatically shook her head yes. “God forbid if anyone took her as vulnerable”.
Supper was being served and there was only like an hour or so left to the flight which Darlene estimated in her head. The flight assistants were very proficient and courteous and supper was for Darlene a Salisbury steak, along with mashed potatoes, and green beans. The Texan looked like he had some sort of fish for his meal. Trays were cleaned up and the Captain announced they would have to go into a holding pattern before they landed. Seat belt signs were on again and chair trays were being folded up to the back of seats and that is when Darlene’s ears became muffled, and than pain began to take over all her thoughts! Darlene’s eyes where beginning to tear up; the pain was becoming excruciating! She could barely hear the Texan ask her if she was alright? Darlene could barely hear herself answer back “no”! One of the flight attendants was over and asking what the problem was, but Darlene’s pain was so bad she couldn’t even answer and that is the last thing she could remember!
There was a wet cloth she woke up with on her forehead and the Texan staring at her with concern? He quickly explained that she had passed out from the ear pain and that the flight attendant had the pilot go down a level with his holding pattern so Darlene would get relief. How embarrassing but Darlene was so relieved to be feeling better. It wasn’t too long before they were landing in Atlantic City,New Jersey and now the sun was almost down. They loaded off and Darlene politely as well as greatly thanked the Texan for all his help.
Darlene still had a limousine to find that was going to drive her to her condo in Sea City. Thankfully she found it easily and off they were to her final destination. No worse for wear Darlene tried to collect her thoughts and could not contain a little of her enthusiasm as she made chit chat with the limo driver about what to expect in the area she would be staying at. Finally they reached her condo which was located easily. Tomorrow her rented car would arrive, so for now all she had to do was get settled into her place of residence she would have for the next three weeks.
The condo was all that she expected and more! There was a flight of stairs that led to the front door. Darlene could already smell the fresh salt water air. The front door opened to an entrance-way to put all your beach belongings and off to the left was a small lavet that also housed the washer and dryer. To the right you entered into the kitchen area that had a counter divider to the living room which had the sliding glass doors to the deck that over looked the beach. There were two bedrooms one off the back that had windows that viewed the street below, and right across the hall was the master bedroom that also had sliding glass doors to a private deck over looking the boardwalk and beach. Every room was decorated with your typical sea side décor. Darlene couldn’t have been more pleased and relieved to be settling in finally to such a wonderful place.
It didn’t take long for Darlene to unpack her things in the master bed room. In the fridge she noticed an unopened bottle of wine she assumed was left for her use. She found a bottle opener and poured herself a glass of wine and in the darkness off the living room on the deck she sat in a comfy out door chair to sip on her wine. The view was gorgeous in the night! The full moon danced in the darkened waters. The smells were so romantic and there was no doubt Darlene could hear a Marimba band playing down the way. Becoming relaxed with the sea air and the wine it was shortly after that Darlene finally laid her head down and was sound asleep listening to the lull of the ocean waves.
Sunday morning woke Darlene with a bright sun beaming in thru the sliding glass doors in her bedroom. It was her first day here and she intended to just relax. When she dressed she put on a bathing suit to go sit on the beach before anything else. With perfect timing her rented car arrived. Now there was nothing to be concerned with for the whole day. This is just what Darlene needed a relaxing vacation day. As she carried her beach chair across the boardwalk Darlene’s flip flops made a rhythmic sound. The sand she stepped onto immediately felt hot to her toes. There appeared to be life guards every fifty yards or so and she quickly found a nice spot to set up her chair in the sizzling sun. There was an ocean breeze that blew slightly, but it wasn’t enough to keep cool with on such a balmy day, so Darlene decided to get a little wet with the salt water before she settled in again on her lounge chair.
While Darlene stared at the ocean on the beach she could not help but ponder all the things that went on with her life in the last month or so. Of course the most predominate thought on her mind was Jed. How could he have hurt her so much? She always thought she could count on him and now he was gone. Darlene felt sadness and grief as she contemplated on her failed engagement and the break up. How could she had been such a fool?
Strange now as her mind cleared a bit Darlene felt there were eyes on her from towards the condo in back of her? She thought it must be her imagination but the feeling was so strong she couldn’t ignore it. Darlene had already been in the scolding sun for about two hours now, and even though she had applied sunscreen she didn’t want to over do it. She decided to go into the condo to make some lunch. The problem was she had not bought any groceries yet to make food when she needed to eat, so the first plan of attack was to buy provisions. Darlene found a local grocery market just down the street and loaded up with food. After all she would be there for three weeks and she felt none of it would go to waste. Darlene also stopped at the local package store to replace the wine she had already opened and stock up a bit on more so she could sip on wine during her lonely nights.
The moon was bright over the water as Darlene sat on her condo deck with her almost empty wine glass still clutched in her hand. Again she felt eyes on her, that strange feeling you get when some one is starring at you. To her right was another condo deck that belonged to a New York couple. She knew they were from New York City because she had over heard them conversating earlier in the evening. Darlene still having that unusual sensation of eyes on her looked to the deck on the condo to her left. There she saw a silhouette of a dark man wearing what looked like a straw sun hat. Was he the one that was staring at her? Darlene couldn’t tell, but she decided to go in for the night just in case, because it gave her the creeps. Besides the next morning she wanted to get up early and get to the Expo to review any modern equipment she might not yet be familiar with.
The morning sun was barely coming up when Darlene rose to get ready to go to her first day at the Expo. When she did arrive at the Expo there was hardly anyone there yet except for the venders, which worked out perfect for Darlene. She quickly started her rounds to see all the new gadgets. Surprisingly to Darlene there was a lot more new modern technology she was not aware of yet. The day went by quickly and still Darlene had not seen all there was to see. Certainly it was evident in Darlene’s mind that tomorrow she would have to definitely return to finish up seeing everything at the Expo sufficiently.
That evening once again sitting relaxing on the condo deck with her glass of wine in hand Darlene could feel eyes upon her. This time she quickly looked in the darkness to her left and saw the same shape of a man with the same hat on. Darlene was almost certain now it was he that was giving her the feeling of being stared at. Maybe he was just curious or had nothing else to do, but in any case it made Darlene uncomfortable. She thought to herself that as soon as she had time she would have to find away to introduce herself to her neighbors especially this luminous outline of the man that gave her such cause for concern.
The next day seemed to go rapidly again at the Expo, but by four o’clock Darlene was positive she had gone over all the venders thoroughly enough to have all the knowledge she would need for the up coming year of new equipment. By the time she reached home to her condo it was already five thirty and as Darlene pulled into the drive way she saw a glimpse of the man she thought was constantly staring at her go through his front door. This sighting of the mysterious man was a reminder for her to make a point of meeting her condo neighbors. Darlene brought her Expo bags and all the paraphernalia she accumulated from the venders into the condo to sift through later. She could hear that the New York couple was home next door and at the spur of the moment she went to knock on their door to introduce herself.
Mr. and Mrs. Hamstien were a delight! They welcomed Darlene into their condo with out hesitation. They seemed thrilled to have such a nice gal like Darlene to chat with and get to know. The Hamstien’s were both short in stature, almost appearing through the years they had grown to look alike. Both wearing white shorts and Mr. Hamstien had a powder blue short sleeved polo shirt on and was bare footed. As well Mrs. Hamstien was bare footed wearing a light pink sleeveless top. Darlene found out that this condo was their summer residence which would explain their dark tanned skin tones. Right away ice tea was offered and Darlene was grateful to sip on the cool beverage. Darlene stayed chatting about many subjects with the Hamstiens for over an hour and a half, but when they offered her to stay for supper she declined, and returned graciously to her own condo.
Well that was easy introducing herself to the Hamstiens but the scenario of introducing herself to the strange man in the left condo would be a whole other effort and situation. However Darlene figured if she was ever going to feel more comfortable about staying there, she would have to make a great effort into meeting the elusive man. Darlene went to eat her supper out on the deck as the sun was making its way down into the horizon. As she settled in and began to dine she noticed her mystery neighbor to the left had come out to sit on his deck wearing what she could now see was a straw sun hat. As Darlene looked almost staring herself she wasn’t prepared for what she saw!
Darlene had no idea he the mystery man would look so handsome! The thought of him staring at her and almost catching her stare back at him made Darlene blush. Darlene had nothing left to do but wave a “Hello” and in kind he waved back. Than the attractive man did something very bold. He said a little bit of conversation question to Darlene which went “Mighty lovely weather we are having don’t you think?” Darlene found herself answering “Just beautiful!” Next Mr. handsome leaned into Darlene’s deck more and said “I am Forest” “Forest Rent” “and I live here year round”. Before long the two were conversing across the deck and finding out about each other. Certainly Darlene felt relieved that Forest seemed harmless and less obscure now she was talking to him.
Forest Rent could have been labeled as African American if not for his thick accent. It was a British accent and he was an Islander that had a British influence. His voice and accent was over the top adding to his good looks! Besides sporting his straw hat which was well worn,Forest had on a sleeveless t-shirt that showed off some very muscular arms decorated with one tattoo on his left arm that resembled a mermaid. Forest wore on his bottom half tan cargo shorts with a comfortable fit and he himself also was barefooted. The gold earrings Forest wore were very tasteful tiny loops contrasting to his dark brown skin reminding Darlene of the pirate look. When Forest talked he almost made Darlene melt as he occasionally smiled with his perfect big white teeth.
Before Darlene knew it the sun was totally down as she and Forest wrapped up their conversation with a pleasant good night. Darlene now felt so much more at ease knowing all three of her neighbors. Darlene finally feeling more at home decided once again to relax on the deck watching the water with her now usual glass of wine. Darlene mulled over in her mind all the area’s information she retrieved from her neighbors. There apparently besides the beach was much to see and experience not only in the day time but in the evening also. Darlene decided that tomorrow she would start to venture to these different locations and start living her life to the fullest regardless of not having her fiancé any more! Jed was history and it was about time she started acting like it!
Sometimes life wasn’t fare. That is what Darlene decided when she woke up sick as a dog for her first official day of her vacation. Some kind of a flue she caught, a bug, a virus of enormous might. She spent the whole day going back and forth from the bathroom to the bed, and this sick feeling seemed like it was never going to end. Darlene didn’t feel like she had a fever but she was definitely not at her best when evening rolled around. Finally she was able to get some ginger ale and crackers down and actually keep them down. Darlene watched a little TV and turned in early that night in hopes the next day she would be fine.
The next morning even though feeling a little weak was much better and Darlene found herself taking a shower and planning to go shopping along the boardwalk at all the little shops that were lined up at the end of the beach area. There was a quaint little silver shop that Darlene bought a matching set of jewelry with renderings of mermaids and sea shells. Now she would be wearing the same motif from earrings to two large rings for her hands, as well as bracelets and a very elaborate necklace. Next there was a clothing shop and Darlene treated herself to a couple of new styled bathing suits and sun dresses in all assortments. Having so many packages to carry she was fumbling them as she walked back to her condo, that is fumbling until this strong arm and gentle British voice offered to help her carry them. It was Forest and he lifted most of her bags from her arms and escorted her home. Yes Darlene was polite enough to ask Forest in for some fresh ice tea. He made it known he was looking for her yesterday which lead her to confess she had been ill. Darlene thought to herself that it was funny yet a bit of a thrill that Forest was thinking of her at all? Again conversation went smoothly between the two of them, which now included a delightful lunch served by Darlene. It wasn’t until Forest suggested they go out that evening so he could show her some of the night life that went on, that Darlene seemed to become at loss for words. Fleeting thoughts went thru her head before she answered. Indefinable thoughts of feeling like she was cheating on some one, but this was ridiculous, she belonged to no one anymore. Finally she answered yes to Forest’s offer. After they parted ways Darlene quickly dressed for the beach. She wanted to catch a little sun before the late afternoon came. On the beach that afternoon Darlene again had that odd feeling she was being watched, but this time she immediately blocked it out of her mind confident that it must be Forest keeping an eye on her.
Eight o’clock in the evening rolled around and with some color now to her skin, decked out with her new jewelry and a pretty new sun dress Darlene was prepared even though a little nervous with butterflies in her stomach to go out with Forest. There was a knock on the door and when Darlene opened it, there stood Forest with white dress pants on and a grey patterned Hawaiian shirt. He wore natural sandals on his feet and no hat this time. Darlene was impressed by his short neat hair cut to his black wavy hair. She slipped on her sandals and they were on their way for their night on the town. First they started to the left on the boardwalk and the marimba music filled the air. Such a lovely perfect night to be walking kept running thru Darlene’s mind. As they strolled by a few restaurants with open bars to the boardwalk Darlene finally realized where this tantalizing music was coming from. It was called the Tikki Shack Lounge and as they entered the door past the grass roofed bar that coincided with the board walk you could smell the aroma of Chinese food permeating the atmosphere. They were seated immediately and everyone serving them seemed to know Forest personally. Later they spent the evening listening to the music at the bar and that is when Darlene learned much more personal things about Forest.
Forest was a local real-estate broker who mostly worked from home and in a small office down the street. Both his parents had passed away now and he had three siblings that resided in New York City. He had been married once but things didn’t work out, and luckily there were no children to consider so his divorce ended rather equably. It had been four years since his marriage ended, and he found himself recently yearning for a partner. Forest had always painted for a hobby, and offered to show his work to Darlene sometime. As the night came to a close Forest walked Darlene to her door and bent very softly over to kiss her good night. When Darlene shut the door for the evening she for a few minutes leaned against it to catch her bearings from the hole wistful evening. As Darlene readied herself for bed all she had on her mind now was the tender kiss good night she received from Forest. Her thoughts were so peaceful and gay until she spotted an envelope on her pillow? Strange how could something like this be in her condo? What could it be? Pensively Darlene took the envelope in her hands that was addressed to her. Opening it she felt an urgency of dread. The paper inside held few words, but those words chilled Darlene’s blood! All it said was “I AM WATCHING YOU BITCH”. Who could have written such a note? For that matter who had access to her condo? Darlene checked everywhere and made sure all the doors were locked! Could Forest have done something like this when she wasn’t looking? Does Forest have a dual personality? If not Forest than who? Darlene that night did not sleep much, who would had been able to sleep?
The next morning came and by than Darlene was trying to put the letter in the back of her mind as she sleepily walked with her beach equipment on the sand. Now she did know there were eyes on her she could feel them. But it couldn’t be Forest because he said he was working in town today. As she turned to look up to Forest’s condo deck she saw no life upon it, but she did see the Hamstien’s coming towards her with all their beach equipment. They set up right next to Darlene and she ended up relieved for their jovial company.
The next week went on smoothly with increased beach time for Darlene as her skin was turning bronze color. Almost every evening was spent with Forest and they seemed to be getting quite attached to each other. Darlene never mentioned the letter or her fearful feelings she was getting. It wasn’t till the next Monday night when Darlene went to put on her new jewelry had she noticed it missing! Why and how could her jewelry be missing? The letter came rushing back into her head “I AM WATCHING YOU BITCH”. A terrible chill came through her. Who could be doing this and why? This time she was going to tell Forest about all that she was feeling and the things that were happening to her. He was due to pick her up shortly for their evening out. When Darlene finally did tell Forest she broke down in tears, and he in turn was not only very concerned but very gentle and caring. Forest convinced Darlene to call the police and report the theft as well as to inform them of the threatening letter. When the police left Darlene had to admit she did feel much better. She had still two more weeks to her vacation and hopefully would not allow such happenings to ruin it.
Soon unfortunately there was now only one more week now of Darlene’s vacation left and luckily there had been no more incidences, but still Darlene could never shake that feeling that some one was watching her. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday flew by. Now it was Thursday night one of the last nights to spend with Forest. They decided to go out to the Tikki Shack Lounge for dinner. Darlene had replaced her jewelry and was wearing it. The couple was an item now at the Tikki. Everyone knew them as a special couple. As a surprise to Darlene Forest had the band play a memorable song for both of them and that is when he opened a small box and asked her to marry him. Darlene was flabbergasted! She could not catch her breath! The world seemed like it was spinning, and that is when she heard her voice say “Yes”.
The happy couple danced the rest of the night, and when Forest dropped her off at her condo he gave her another unforgettable searing kiss.
It was two in the morning and all seemed fine in Darlene’s condo. It seemed like a century ago that the robbery and letter had showed up to dampen Darlene’s stay. She was in Heaven thinking of her new love Forest. Darlene meandered into the bath room to change, and that is when she felt a strong hand around her mouth and an even stronger arm across her chest with a voice whispering “I told you I was watching you bitch”. Who was this? What was happening to her? As she glanced in the mirror she could see now who it was! Darlene couldn’t believe her eyes! How could this be? He flung her into the bedroom and on to the bed where he quickly stuffed a sock in her mouth, and began to tie her to the bed! What else was going to happen?
The room was dark except for the bathroom light that shed some semblance to objects in the bedroom. Darlene noticed the sliding door blinds were closed. She could see the outline of objects placed on the bureau. He was pacing back and forth and than started to rant and rave! How could this had been the man she had loved? He was like a different person! Even if Darlene could scream for help would any one hear her? She struggled with the ties on her arms and legs, as he yelled all he had on his mind! Pacing and yelling at the same time and with Darlene unable to even respond. This was not the Jed she had been engaged to! What else was he capable of? He went on shouting “I warned you I was watching you!” “You rotten bitch!” “You will always be mine whether you like it or not!” An hour seemed to go by and Jed was still walking abruptly back and forth in the room shouting and making such a racket that finally Darlene started to pray one of her neighbors would hear and investigate or at least call the police. It was than at the end of her prayer did she notice a shimmering straight object in Jed’s right hand. Darlene was sure it was a knife! She thought to herself in a panic “Oh my God he intends to kill me!”
Actually the neighbors did hear the commotion. Jed was making such an uproar that many people heard the racket he was creating. Mr. and Mrs.
Hamstien did call the police and Forest now was at Darlene’s door knocking to come in! His instinct was not to wait for the door to open so he kicked it in! There was Jed with a knife in hand waiting for him! Forest stood very still. Not knowing whom he was really dealing with he went into a stance to fight. Forest could just barely see the outline of Darlene tied to the bed and knew he had to rescue her. Darlene still unable to say anything struggled now to get the gag out of her mouth, but it was hopeless! All of a sudden Jed lunged at Forest with the knife almost like he was using a sword! Little could Jed have been aware of that Forest specialized in martial arts, and was trained to disarm villains like Jed! Forest quickly took the knife from Jed’s grasp and had him tightly in a hold down on his knees just as the police came in thru the door! As the police took over Forest rushed over to check on Darlene to see what shape she was in! He was relieved to see that she was a little worse for ware but unharmed.
Still in disbelief about Jed and his capability to turn into such a monster, Darlene was so grateful to be in Forest’s arms.
Darlene stayed a few more days with Forest who never left her side. Than Darlene returned to Utah to hand her notice for ending her job. When she was able to get all her affairs in order she moved lock stock and barrel to Sea City in New Jersey.
Months went by until the wedding happened.
Now it is fifteen years later, and Forest and Darlene still own the sea side condo which they rent out now because they had to buy a bigger home on the beach to raise the three children they have. They are very proud of their three children, daughters, Shelly, Mernie, and their youngest a son named Fossil.
Perhaps if you ever vacation yourself in Sea City New Jersey you might come across Mr. and Mrs. Rent and their three beautiful children.
Lisa J. Warner